Study Abroad Offers Additional Opportunities – The Highlander

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Michael Gombita, Reporter

University officials are offering students the chance to study at six overseas institutions and one national university as a result of a 2014 survey in which students said they were interested in studying in Africa, Australia and other countries around the world.

The study showed that students were most interested in Australia, Italy, Ireland, and England. Officials used this survey as a basis for planning the study abroad program’s visits to the programs overseas.

Marguerite Roy, visiting professor of the history department and overseer of the development of new study abroad agenda, has been working since summer 2014 with Carolyn Yencharis-Corcoran, Assistant Director of the Insalaco Career Center, by discussing and meeting with study abroad associates to create a program for students.

“As a result, we now have affiliation agreements with six overseas institutions and one national,” said Roy. “What this means is that our students have the opportunity to study at one of these universities and have their credits transferred as if they were attending Misericordia.”

Classes in English, fine arts, history, religious studies, service learning, and occupational therapy are some classes that students can choose to take during the study abroad experience.

One main concern that students have is still the financial costs for the program. Students have been hearing about the opportunities that the study abroad program has to offer but cannot afford it. Sydney Pesaresi, first year medical imaging major, is interested in seeing famous landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but she said the price she will have to pay is not worth it.

“It would be interesting to see the places that you travel to,” said Pesaresi. “But I would not be able to go because of my major and the cost of the program.”

The cost to participate in the study abroad program have been kept to a minimum, Roy said. Students should not see a change in his or her costs, whether they attend Misericordia or an overseas institution. In addition,credits that students studying abroad will be transferred as if they were attending Misericordia.

The study abroad program offers students an opportunity to explore, grow, and shape their experiences not only as college students, but also as citizens of the world. The classes and institutions have been specifically selected by university officials to benefit the students in his or her studies if they decide to study abroad, Roy said.

“All programs have been specifically selected and screened to ensure they offer the appropriate support to our students,” said Roy. “The goal is for the student to have the best possible study abroad experience to possible in the country of their choice.”

The university has also joined the Institute of International Education’s initiative to double the number of its students studying abroad over the next four years. The IIE listed the top five reasons for students to study abroad, which include employers’ interest in workers who have cross-cultural skills, cutting-edge technical skills and competency in languages other than English.  IIE reports that many of the world’s influential innovations are originating from the collaboration of cross-cultural teams, often located continents away.

Overall, students who study abroad tend to have higher grades, increased confidence, and study abroad leads to college graduation and higher retention rates.

“Students have shown interest in the program,” said Roy. “At first we had just a few students at our information session, but since the word has gotten out, we at least had 24 students, and a number of faculty and administration participated in our last session.”

Students who are not able to make the information sessions have been coming in to sign up as well. Students have applied for programs both for the summer as well as the semester programs.

Christopher Rehrig, first year occupational therapy major, is interested in seeing an actual pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

“It is interesting to see the different cultures as you would travel,” said Rehrig. “I am Irish so Ireland would be really cool to see.”

Rehrig also said he was curious to see how students in different countries study and whether overseas institutions have different types of teaching techniques or in-class activities.

Faculty led programs are also a part of the study abroad program.

“This is a great way for students who are looking for a shorter summer, experience,” said Roy. “There are three programs open for participants such as Ireland with professor Weber, Canada with professor Wright and Tanzania with professor Mailloux.”

Sophomore occupational therapy major Jenna Aimes said she is interested in travel but not a study abroad experience.

“It would be cool to go take summer classes somewhere else,” said Aimes. “I would rather travel by doing missionary work. I also would not be able to do it because of the cost.”

Roy feels that the program is going to be worth the journey.

“Once students go abroad and come back, they will share their enthusiasm about the experience and the numbers will grow from there,” said Roy. “Students are very excited about the prospect of learning other languages and going somewhere outside the United States.”

Roy took part in a study abroad experience in France during her junior year in college.

“It changed the course of my life for the best,” said Roy. “I would not trade my experience for the world!”

Roy praises University president Dr. Thomas Botzman for making the program a success, as it was one of the university’s top priorities.

“He wants to make sure students who would like to study abroad to have the opportunity,” said Roy. “He, in conjunction with the study away, has been instrumental in moving forward so quickly.”

Students will have the opportunity to study abroad in the following locations and institutes: The Umbra Institute, Perugia and Florence, Italy; University Limerick, Dublin City University, and National University of Ireland at Maynooth in Ireland; St. Mary’s University in Twickenham in England; University of Wales, Trinity St. David in Wales; Southern Cross University, Lismore in Australia; Tanzania and Uganda in Africa; American University in Washington D.C.; Montreal, Quebec City in Canada; Cross Keys, Manchester; and Mustard Seed Communities in Kingston, Jamaica.

Students, faculty or administration interested in the study abroad program may contact Marguerite Roy at mroy@misericordia.edu.

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